MX23RW : Friday, April 16 14:22:14| >> :60:638:638:
Feb 28, 2021 at 2pm UK at San Siro
Inter MilanInter Milan
3-0
GenoaGenoa
Lukaku (1'), Darmian (69'), Sanchez (80')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Zapata (19'), Strootman (40')

Preview: Inter Milan vs. Genoa - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Inter Milan and Genoa, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Striking four points clear in the Scudetto race after a magnificent derby win last weekend, Inter Milan aim to keep their foot to the floor against in-form Genoa on Sunday.

The previously troubled Grifone travel to San Siro unbeaten in seven, while their hosts have only lost once in the league since October.


Match preview

Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring against AC Milan in Serie A on February 21, 2021© Reuters

Potentially one of the most significant stagings of the Derby della Madonnina in recent years took place last Sunday, with new league leaders Inter dominating proceedings through some characteristically clinical finishing to win 3-0 and go four points clear of old rivals Milan.

Lautaro Martinez returned to form in style with a brace, while Romelu Lukaku and goalkeeper Samir Handanovic also shone upon the echoing Meazza stage. Also known as 'El Toro', Martinez bullishly bounced back from a brief lull in his sky-high standards and has now been involved in 17 league goals this season (13 goals, four assists) - as many as he managed in the entirety of 2019-20.

Looking sharper and more hungry than at any other stage this campaign, both Lautaro and his teammates were deserving derby victors and now look to have a first title triumph in over a decade within the palm of their hand. Having previously suffered Coppa Italia elimination at the hands of Juventus, it is crystal clear that Antonio Conte and company now only have eyes for the Scudetto this season.

Courtesy of their ineptitude in the Champions League group stage, the Nerazzurri finished stone-last of an admittedly challenging section, so have benefited from rare midweek breaks during the past fortnight.

Since they crashed out of continental competition entirely, Conte has made the most of the opportunity to focus on training in the intense style he prefers and also offer his overworked stars some much-needed time to recuperate, so Genoa will be facing a team in top condition.

Ahead of the Ligurians' visit, Inter have won each of their last eight Serie A home games and, throughout the season, only Parma and Milan have taken points off Conte's side at San Siro. Furthermore, they have won each of their last five league games against Genoa without conceding a single goal.

In fact, the most recent match in which the Rossoblu even picked up a point against Inter dates back to December 2012, so Davide Ballardini's resurgent squad will have their work cut out to overcome recent precedent this Sunday.

Davide Ballardini, now in charge of Genoa, pictured in January 2018© Reuters

Now unbeaten in seven league games, Genoa have bettered the points tallies of every club but Inter, Lazio and Juventus since mid-January and have raised eyebrows - plus their long-suffering fans' hopes - with such a rapid reversal in form.

When previously they looked an abject proposition, destined to dice with demotion, head coach Ballardini returned to the dugout for a fourth time earlier this term and has had a transformational effect. Since the former Palermo boss re-joined the club, they have lost only one Serie A game in ten - the joint-fewest defeats during that period, alongside this week's table-topping opponents.

Midfielder Milan Badelj's stoppage-time strike snatched a point for the 10-man Grifone last time out, in a pulsating 2-2 draw with fellow mid-table side Hellas Verona. An intense, end-to-end affair finished with the spoils shared despite Genoa going down a man for the final quarter-of-an-hour, after they had used all their substitutions and then suffered an injury to Luca Pellegrini - paying testament to their newfound grit and resilience.

Despite letting in those two Verona strikes last Saturday, 11th-placed Genoa have conceded the joint-fewest top-flight goals since the turn of the year (six in nine matches, alongside Juventus) but, curiously, they have also posted the lowest possession figure during that period - just over 40%.

They will not expect to see a great deal of the ball against Inter either - though the Nerazzurri are also happy to concede possession and strike with precision on the break - as they head into perhaps their toughest test of a see-saw season. Having kept clean sheets in three consecutive away games, it will take a special performance to continue that streak against Serie A's top-scoring side.

Inter Milan Serie A form: WDWWWW
Inter Milan form (all competitions): WLWDWW

Genoa Serie A form: DWWWDD


Team News

Inter Milan's Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring their second goal on January 10, 2021© Reuters

Now with a much lighter fixture schedule, Inter have few concerns about absences on Sunday, though Achraf Hakimi - an integral cog in their well-oiled machine - must sit the game out due to suspension.

Otherwise, Antonio Conte is only monitoring minor thigh issues affecting midfielders Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi, so should name a very familiar XI in his customary 3-5-2 setup.

Matteo Darmian is the favourite to deputise for Hakimi at wing-back, though Danilo D'Ambrosio could also fill in, while both Ivan Perisic and Christian Eriksen have apparently entered Conte's circle of trust and should retain their places after showing up well in the Derby.

Genoa have both Davide Biraschi (dislocated shoulder) and Luca Pellegrini (thigh injury) unavailable, but Davide Ballardini should be able to name a virtually unchanged side, mirroring the home team's 3-5-2 formation.

The main area of contention lies in the identity of top scorer Mattia Destro's partner up front, as Eldor Shomurodov and veteran Goran Pandev - a treble-winner with Inter in 2010 - look to unseat current incumbent Marko Pjaca.

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Perisic; Martinez, Lukaku

Genoa possible starting lineup:
Perin; Masiello, Radovanovic, Criscito; Zappacosta, Strootman, Badelj, Zajc, Czyborra; Pandev, Destro


SM words green background

We say: Inter Milan 2-0 Genoa

Inter were impressively calculating in the Derby, demonstrating all of the characteristics required to become champions, and are set to continue keeping the pace high in the title race.

The Nerazzurri can post a fourth win in a row (and a ninth straight home success) despite Genoa's vast improvement of late. As the two sides match up similarly in terms of formation, the hosts' far greater individual quality - plus high-calibre options on the bench - will prove the deciding factors.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data


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Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring against AC Milan in Serie A on February 21, 2021
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European roundup: Martinez hits brace as Inter win Milan derby
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan30235269274274
2AC Milan30196557352263
3Juventus30188461273462
4Atalanta BCAtalanta30187571383361
5Napoli30192965343159
6Lazio2917484638855
7Roma30166854441054
8SassuoloSassuolo30111094948143
9Hellas VeronaHellas Verona30118113835341
10Sampdoria30106143945-636
11Bologna3097143946-734
12Udinese3089133240-833
13Genoa30711123244-1232
14SpeziaSpezia3088144055-1532
15Fiorentina3079143849-1130
16BeneventoBenevento3079143055-2530
17Torino29512124252-1027
18CagliariCagliari3057183151-2022
19Parma30311162959-3020
20Crotone3043233777-4015

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